TEXT OF INTERVIEW
SCOTT JAGOW: British Airways just avoided one strike. Now it could have another. Thousands of ground crew members are threatening to walk off the job. They rejected the airline’s latest pension offer. Couple weeks ago, the airline canceled hundreds of flights after a strike threat by flight attendants. British Airways just started a new policy this morning about checked luggage. Let’s check in with Stephen Beard about this. Stephen, what’s the deal?
STEPHEN BEARD: Under the new rule, passengers will be allowed one free piece of luggage weighing no more than 50 pounds. Now a traveler with an extra bag will be required to pay an extra £240. That’s getting on for $500 . . .
BEARD: . . . to take that extra bag on a long-haul return flight. I mean it might even, on some flights, to buy another ticket and persuade somebody to fly with you just to get your extra bag on board.
JAGOW: Good grief. What are people saying about this?
BEARD: Well as you can imagine, people are incredulous frankly. The airline does point out that there are many exemptions. For example, if you’re flying to the States or to Canada or other countries. Pregnant women, the elderly, the disabled, in fact anybody that can successfully persuade the person at the check-in desk that they cannot carry one 50-pound piece of luggage will be allowed to take two.
JAGOW: What is the airline officially saying about the policy?
BEARD: The airline says, somewhat mysteriously, that this new policy has been introduced to comply with new health and safety regulations designed to protect baggage handlers. But the airline’s come under a hail of criticism and derision over this. Nevertheless the chief executive Willie Walsh says a policy of charging for excess baggage has existed in the airline industry since the Wright brothers, he says, and we’re not changing that.
JAGOW: OK thank you Stephen.
BEARD: OK Scott.
JAGOW: Our European correspondent, Stephen Beard in London.
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